Sunday, December 10, 2023

Service extensions boon or bane

By RK´┐ŻSinha

It is being anticipated that the chairman and the managing director of SBI Mr. Rajeev Kumar, the largest public sector bank of India, is likely to get a service term extension after retirement, for the same post on which he is serving. He was appointed on 7th October 2017 on this post. Prior to him, his predecessor Arundhati Ghosh was also awarded with service term extension by the government. Providing an extension is solely dependent on government discretion and is totally lies under its jurisdiction. Undoubtedly, the concerned department of the government decides and proposes the name of any officer for service extension taking everything under consideration. Atleast this is what widely said.

But question relevant today is, should the officers further continue with their appointment and assume the office even after attaining the retirement age? Don’t they realise that, getting a service extension by these officers results in ending the probability for many junior officers of getting promotions? Don’t they come in government service with public service as their aim? Haven’t they sensitive enough to show some kindness to their subordinates who are working along with them for decades? Providing service extension to these officers is beyond justification. Some of them got extensions by government but many of them use the immoral advantage of their post and power. Is not it the greediness for money and power, more than what is required?

Who are these indispensable officers

You might have remembered that P. K .Sinha,former Cabinet Secretary of 1977 batch IAS who was awarded extension multiple times. This resulted in deprivation of opportunity to many of his subordinate officers  to become Cabinet Secretary who were also equally competent . His predecessors successively B. K Chaturvedi, Ajeet Kumar and K. M. Chandrashekhar were also provided extensions. Why does this happen that some officers are assumed as indispensables by the government. This discriminatory process should end. And if government feels that this preference system is necessarily required for a particular officer then, the government should put the speciality and achievements of him/her in public domain and create a temporary post and provide them but stop blocking opportunities to equally competent slightly less experienced officers for promotion.

The Service extension of P. K. Sinha , shattered the dreams of Kapil dev Tripathi and Reeta Titotiya to become Cabinet Secretary. Cabinet Secretary is a single post that is above all millions of government posts in India. The welfare schemes and administrative programmes are executed under his supervision only. This is highly important post. But how can we justify that the person been awarded with service extension is the only one that can be said eligible and qualified. Other all are inferior to him. This can never be justified.

However, the government has given one year service extension to V. K. Yadav, Chairman of railway board also. His tenure of post was till December 2019. He was awarded one year extension by the government because of his better performance. Means the government does not consider anyone else eligible for chairman post but V. K. Yadav. He earlier served on the post of general manager in south central railway. V. K. Yadav is an officer of Indian Railways service 1980 batch.

All the officers are eligible

It should be clearly understood that talking about appointment of these officers does not mean that I am anyway questioning the eligibility and competence of these highly experienced officers like Rajeev Kumar and V. K. Yadav. These all are eligible and experienced officers. The main concern is that the subordinates despite being equally eligible are not getting the required place in preference list. These subordinates have also proved their calibre many times. But isn’t it possible to include these highly eligible retiring government officers in government machinery in an through advisory post. This will prevent the senior officers from demoralising condition.

Summing up, government officers are inspired by the teachings of Sardar Patel. Sardar Patel on 21st April 1947,in Metcalf house in delhi, while addressing the first batch of IAS and IPS officers after independence stated that”they will have to take care of,be solemn and sensitive towards the questions of the people of independent India”.Sardar Patel also clarified them the difference of Swaraj(self-governance) and Sooraaj. These officers mostly obey the keynote of governance what was taught to them. But generally they follow the usual course and do not themselves try to do something innovative. There is always an exception. Most of the officers engaged themselves in arranging better postings for them

Truly, some officers also sacrifice their lives performing their duties. Talking about honest officers, discussion will be incomplete, if we do not mention Neha Shorey of Punjab Licensing authority, Satyendra Dubey of NHAI, Manjunath of Petroleum ministry. Neha shorey was a laborious and dutiful lady officer. She never leave the culprits until they get the punishment. This caused her life. Before Neha, Satyendra Dubey, Manjunath, Ashok Khemka and others paid through their nose for their integrity.

It is evident that the government will have to stand with these honest officers. At present, not even the society is ready to act as a protective shield for them. This condition is really grave and unfortunate. Honest officers wander lifelong and fight the injustices to establish a society fair enough for everyone. They are unreasonably denied the promotion. They are always tortured by frequent promotions. Ashok Khemka and his frequent promotions made everyone know about him. He was transferred multiple times because he is not a corrupt officer.

Ram Manohar Lohia on 21st December 1963 gave an important speech in Parliament on debate on topic”how to get rid of corruption “? In his speech he said” the relationship between the government and business has gone low to that extent that it has never been witnessed in any other part of the world and it has become polluted, corrupt and dishonest”. Whether tax collection by British and corruption of politicians, this arrangement was as usual. The rulers changed, their forms changed but their mindset remained the same. The natives were exploited and are being exploited even today. Corrupt politicians has made the public service such that our feelings of will power and great administration for public welfare is diminishing gradually. Some of us are only focussing on and centralised our attention to our job, lavish government perks and amenities, world tour and luxurious grandeur. Everyone of us will agree with the thinking of lohia considering it in present context.

Actually, the officers who are dutiful and show integrity towards their duty will always come forward in every era. But do we actually paid these dutiful officers the required respect they are worthy of? Do the government fulfilled its duty of providing them with required preference and security? It will be better if our government stand with honest and result oriented officers. After retiring they should be awarded with important posts and should not be given service extensions but at the same time government should also take care of junior officers, they should also be given the promotions that they deserve. Junior officers should also be given chance to exhibit their eligibility and personality.

(Writer is senior editor, columnist and former MP)

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